Okay ... hi! So. I decided to create a sequel to "Lack" and "Puzzle Pieces". Of course I did, haha. (Spoilers to those fics, obviously.)
Anyway, this story will be a series of one-shots on their life after their decision to make things long-term. It will most likely jump back and forth through time because I haven't yet decided which parts of their relationship I'm going to write about, but if the need arises, I will make a timeline and put it here ... lol. Also, because I'm an Angst fanatic, this will likely contain a lot of angst. And sappiness. You have been warned.
Yup, I think that's all that needs to be said. Hope you like the series :)
Note: Okay, to be honest, I'm rather green when it comes to relationship-y stuff (and yes, I realize the irony of my writing Tiva), so if I make anything seem unrealistic, could you please let me down gently? Please. My poor little heart thanks you D:
Summary: "Zi, how can I be sure of where we're going with this?" When Tony calls Ziva one night while freaking out, Ziva decides to help him through his fears.
Disclaimer: I just received (very bad) news on Ray D: now I really wish I owned NCIS. A single order, "Be gone with you!" and we would not have to worry about his return. Alas, I own not. :(
Spoilers: No specific canon spoilers, but this story is built on "Lack" and "Puzzle Pieces". It may not make sense if you haven't read those two stories.
Dedication: To Alice (alidiabin), who is, simply put, AWESOME.
Enjoy; please review!
Her cell phone rang at the exact moment that she checked the clock on her wall for the third time, and she jumped and hurriedly stretched across to the coffee table to pick the device up.
"Tony. Is Gibbs still keeping you?" she asked him without preamble; Tony had been sleeping overnight at her place for almost two months now, and she'd grown rather too accustomed to having him in her apartment after work hours. If she were the type to admit things, she'd have to say that she missed him at the moment.
"Hey, Zi," he answered, and his voice sounded like warm honey against her ear, "no. I got out about a half hour ago. But … I called to let you know I might – I might be going back to my place tonight."
Her heart sank a little. "Is there something you need to do by yourself?" she asked hesitantly, because why might sound a bit whiny and demanding.
"Well…" He sighed and continued with what sounded like frustration. "Not exactly. I don't know how to tell you this, but I may be freaking out a bit, and…"
"Where are you?" she asked softly when he didn't finish his sentence, and he breathed out again.
"Kinda just wandering along the Potomac."
"I will go look for you."
"No. I mean … Zi, I'm not exactly a pretty picture when I freak out."
"What are you freaking out about?"
"… Us," he admitted.
She blinked, since she couldn't remember anything that had happened lately between them which would warrant freaking out, but didn't voice her thought. "Then we can freak out together, yes?"
"Yeah," he replied after a beat, in a surprised tone which suggested he hadn't expected her to say that.
"It's okay," she said as reassuringly as she could. "I will be with you soon. You are near the Navy Yard, yes?"
Two seconds passed before he answered in the affirmative and thanked her, and he actually sounded stunned by then. She smiled, ordered him to stay where he was and wait for her, and told him before hanging up that she loved him.
She had the foresight to grab both their thicker coats before heading out the door.
It took her twenty minutes to find him, and when she did her foresight proved to be accurate, because he was shivering and looking a little blue by then. She struggled to help him put his coat on and let him hold her as they walked back to the car, so that he would be warmer.
The car heater on 'High', she turned to him. "Your place or mine?"
He closed his eyes and seemed to come to a decision about something she wasn't privy to. "Yours."
They drove in silence for a while before he spoke up without looking at her. "You came for me."
She shot him a quizzical look out of the corner of her eye, but failed to come up with an intelligent response to that statement.
"Well, you know, people don't usually want to talk to me when I start getting all panicky," he elaborated. "Especially if my panic involves them. They tell me to go take a walk and clear my head, get my thoughts straight, stuff like that. Not a lot of people can handle … good ole me."
Ignoring the feeling that he'd changed his sentence at the last minute, she risked leaning over and pressing a very quick kiss to his cheek. He yelped and told her to watch the road; she laughed. "I am watching the road. And you are mine to 'handle' now – I have my own way of doing that."
He cast her a slight smile. "I like it."
The rest of the car ride was spent in peaceful quiet.
She could still sense his reluctance to tell her when they got home why he'd been freaking out, so she left him to his shower while she prepared for bed. Propped up against her pillow and armed with a good book, she was already beginning to nod off when he finally climbed into his side and held out his arms to let her curl up in his embrace like she'd acquired the habit of doing. She laid her book aside and made herself comfortable, nuzzling her nose into his neck.
He pressed a gentle kiss into her hair, and his arms tightened almost desperately against her. "Zi, how can I be sure of where we're going with this?"
She blinked her sleepiness away and tried to concentrate. "I thought we agreed it's long-term."
"I know. But I – I kinda wanna take things further, y'know; it's just that I keep…"
"Freaking out," she filled in the blanks.
"Yeah," he confessed morosely.
She brought up a hand to toy with his chest hair. "Take things further, how?" she questioned lightly, hoping she could keep things playful enough to take off his nervous edge.
He watched her for a while. "I've been kinda wanting to ask you if you … might want to … move in together."
Her hand froze in its motion because she hadn't been expecting that, and his body twitched. She glanced at him to see apprehension seeping into his eyes, so she pressed a kiss to his collarbone. "'Kind of wanting,' as in you are not really sure if you want to ask?"
"No, I'm sure. I really want it. It's just…" He shut his eyes, and his voice suddenly became so small that she almost had to strain her ears to hear it. "I keep seeing you walk out the door in the end."
She looked at him, all vulnerable and terrified by the thought of her leaving, and her heart broke for him. She slipped an arm around his waist and snuggled as close as she could. "Tony, in case you haven't noticed, you've been staying in my apartment for weeks now. I think I like having you around twenty-four seven."
He exhaled in a rush. "Is that a 'yes'?"
"That is a 'yes'," she confirmed. "And it is also a promise."
"To what?" he asked, finally opening his eyes and meeting hers again.
She paused and rearranged the words in her head. "I can't promise that we will definitely work out." He tensed, and she tightened her hold. "But. I can promise to give you my all. I want this to work out as much as you do, Tony. If commitment is what you want, then you have it. You've always had it. I'm not going to … 'up and leave' you, hmm?"
"Yeah." He swallowed a few times. "But this is now. You might … decide one day that the leaving is worth more than the staying."
She frowned as she thought about how to answer him, and slowly rubbed his side in the way that she'd learnt would calm him down. "Do you remember what happened the first time we fought? As a couple, I mean."
"You went to Gibbs's place."
"Yes. But more than that, I told you where I was going. And then I called from Gibbs's to let you know I'd be back later – even if I said it very rudely. I did come back. You were asleep by then, but I did go to bed here, by your side. Do you remember?"
He nodded. "It's not exactly a forgettable fight."
She sighed and gave him another kiss. "It's not about the fight, Tony. It's not even about the flowers and sunshine and everything nice. They are all important, but you know what? This is commitment. Calling you even when I'm mad, so that you won't have to worry. Returning to your side at the end of every day because even if there are times when I don't particularly like you, I want things with you to work in the long run. Not letting you freak out on your own because I am one-half of this relationship, and I'm in it for the good and the bad.
"I wanted so much to break things off with you after that first fight," she continued, and he tensed again. "Because I was angry. But I didn't. And I don't regret that, Tony, because I came home expecting you to have gone back to your own apartment, and yet you were here. When I asked you about it the next morning you said it was because I'd told you I'd be back. That was the moment I realized you cared enough to stay. That was also the moment I realized … that I care enough to want to come home to you. You're my home, Tony. It doesn't matter if we get into some big fight and I feel like leaving, because somewhere along the way I'd decided that you're the one I want to be committed to."
He abruptly buried his face into her hair, pulling a startled gasp from her. "So … no coming home one day to find you and your bags all gone?"
"No. Never." He drew her tight against him, and she just let him hold her and (she suspected) cry into her hair. Rubbing his side again, she turned and burrowed her own face into the curve of his neck, inhaling his scent. It was soap with just a hint of something uniquely Tony, and it reminded her so much of how she loved him that her breath caught in her throat.
She'd finally found where she belonged.
It was still dark when she opened her eyes, but the memories of the previous night came back with a rush that sent her bolting upright, her heart racing. He stirred beside her, and she looked down to find him blinking sleepily up at her.
"Tony," she whispered, cringing, "I'm so sorry I fell asleep on you."
He smiled lazily and tugged on her arm to get her to settle back down beside him. "'S 'kay. Thought it was … kinda cute."
"'Cute'?" She raised her eyebrows at him.
"'Cause you didn't mind that I … y'know, wouldn't let go of you."
A smile touched her lips as she stroked his face gently. "You needed to hold me, yes?"
His eyes widened, and for a moment it seemed as if he were coming to another decision she wasn't privy to. And then he stilled her hand and slowly propped himself up on one elbow to gaze down at her. "I think I'm finally ready to say it, Zi."
Her heart skipped a beat. "Say what?" she asked, even though she had an idea.
He softly caressed her mouth with his thumb, appearing lost in thought. And then, finally, he took a deep breath, and the beautiful eyes that met hers seemed to shine with contentment. "I love you."